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veloped Characters of Shakspeare.” He carried them on for some time, and grew eloquent when he introduced us to the mother of Desdemona, the father of Othello, and the grandfather of Lady Macbeth. Even the Egyptian who gave the handkerchief to Othello's mother was not forgotten.
A critic in the Morning Herald” brought the series to a precipitate end, by reminding the curious critic that he must not omit, when he came to Macbeth, to give the birth, parentage, and education of the “farrow of nine," as well as a history of their esteemed parent. Mr. Dana seems to be of Mr. Horne's researching nature.
We were not prepared for this unkind appreciation of Goldsmith :
“What Gray says of Addison's versification, we are sorry to add, too well applies to Goldsmith’s also, which scarcely has above three or four notes in poetry, sweet enough, indeed, like those of a German flute, but such as soon tire and satiate the ear with their frequent return.”
To this Mr. Dana ill-naturedly adds :
“Goldsmith played this very instrument; it was significant.”
We are sorry he does not like the flute, as it is the entire orchestra of the amiable author of the “Behemoth, or the last of the Mastodons," who, we understand, performs the “Hallelujah Chorus," “ Hail Columbia," and " Yankee Doodle” on it with the surprising effect of clearing the street where he resides in a very few minutes. Mr. Dana's criticism is sometimes ingeniously amusing. For instance, he defends the undoubted foibles of his favorites in this manner:
« For the most part, we should be content with them as we find them, lest, with that obstinacy so common to such minds, they run more into the fault, or lest, in the endeavor to remove it, they tear away some beauty which was more closely connected with it than we are aware.
“ Some have complained of Milton's inversions, and perhaps they are now and then overstrained. Had he begun to correct them, who can tell where he would have stopped ? Had he listened, some pedant critic might have spoiled the loftiest and most varied harmony of English verse. In the same way, Cowper's rhyme might have lost all its spirit. And had Wordsworth, in the Excursion, given more compactness to his thoughts, where they are sometimes languidly drawn out, he might have lost something of that calm moral sentiment, of that pure shedding of the soul over his world of beauties, which lie upon them like gentle and thoughtful sunset upon the earth.”
With all deference for so experienced a critic as Mr. Dana, we cannot agree to this piece of special pleading for Wordsworth's prosiness. “Calm, moral sentiment” is dignified and concise, and not wire-drawn verbosity, which constitutes so large a portion of “The Excursion."
There is an occasional shrewdness about his remarks which throws more light upon his subject than a dozen pages of his usual style. Critics complain of an author's dulness, and “outHerod Herod” by their own examples. Like Diogenes, they tread upon the pride of Plato with greater pride. This Satanrebuking sin was one day very amusingly exemplified by that prince of rare fellows, Elliston. He was informed that one of his first ladies of the ballet was so indignant at some dissatisfaction expressed by the audience one evening, that she declared she would not finish her“ pas de seul.” The manager was horrorstruck at her pride, and sent for her to lecture her on such a preposterous self-conceit. The indignant danseuse was ushered into the presence of Robert William, the great autocrat of the theatrical world. He received her with these words: “Madame, I hope you will allow me to say that an audience has a right to hiss as well as to applaud. Your pride is dreadful to contemplate. Are you aware that I myself have actually been hissed ?"
The lady's reply was, “ Indeed, sir, and I hope you liked it." To return to Dana's critique, he says very happily:
“ The French tied up their writers, with the little inspiration they had, as if they were madmen, till well might Madame de Staël ask, • Why all this reining of dull steeds ? At the same time they taught the world to hold as uncouth the movements natural to man, and to admire sudden, sharp, angular shootings of the limbs as the only true lines of beauty, yet the polite world not long ago read and talked nothing but French, and went to church in a galliard, and came home in a levanto.'”
It is pleasant to meet with an American writer who has the courage to speak what he thinks right out, and this rare virtue belongs essentially to Dana. We hope the American public will receive patiently the expression of our firm belief that there is less freedom of opinion in the greatest of republics than in many of the greatest of despotisms.
Mr. Dana says:
“We must not forget, however, to make one exception from our general neglect of American authors, for therein is our boast–our very liberal patronage of the compilers of geographies, in great and little, reading-books, spelling-books, and arithmetics. It is encouraging to our literary adventurers, that, should they fail to please the public in works of invention, they have at least this resort; and the consolation, that if they are not to rank with the poets and novel writers of the day, they may be studied and admired till Pike and Webster are forgotten,”
All this, no doubt, is very encouraging to men of imagination, such as the author of “Kaloolah” and others of his genius for romance, but it is a very hard thing to be said of a great nation, who speak the language that Shakspeare spoke, and hold the faith and morals of Milton, to use the thought of Wordsworth—but it is undoubtedly true even at this minute to a certain extent, although we fancy we discern signs of a clearing up of this Boethian night of American literature.
A great portion of this crying injustice to native authors is founded in either the timidity or malice of some of the reviews. We are told that the editors of one of the leading critical papers in New York have not the courage to mention the name of a well-known American writer in their columns, although he is their personal friend, and a contributor to their paper. To make this the more startling, we are justified in adding that privately they esteem him as a writer of great and sterling merit. What a state ! when men of independent fortune dare not in their own review honestly avow their own opinions ! This “suppressio veri” has a name in the logic of Bacon, which would apply here very strongly. Dana is a gratifying contrast to the Adelphi above alluded to; he says very innocently:
“ Mr. Irving's immediate success does not rest, perhaps, wholly upon his merit, however great. “Salmagundi' came out in numbers, and a little at a time. With a few exceptions, it treated of the city, and what was seen and felt, and easy to be understood by those in society. It had to do with the present and real, not the distant and ideal. It was pleasant morning or after-dinner reading, never taking up too much of a gentleman's time from his business and pleasures, nor so exalted and spiritualized as to seem mystical to his far-reaching vision. It was an excellent thing to speak of in the rests between cotillon, and pauses between games at cards, and answered a further convenient purpose, inasmuch as it furnished those who had none of their own with wit enough, for sixpence, to talk out the sitting of an evening party. In the end, it took fast hold of people, through their vanity; for frequent use had made them so familiar with it as to look upon it as their own: and having retailed its good things so long, they began to run of the notion that they were all of their own making."
This is a very fair brick of the Dana architecture, and exhibits how painstaking and candid a critic he is; it also shows up that elongation rather than that elaboration of criti cism, which so frequently wearies the reader, and spoils the effect of his own simple, earnest thought. He is, too, afraid of its not being understood in all its bearings. We are happy to be able to agree with Mr. Dana in praising Mr. Irving's “Salmagundi;” it was one of the favorite books of our childhood, and it will, with the “ History of New York," probably be his chief passport to fame.
Notwithstanding Mr. Dana's manliness of sentiment, he is a little bitten with the classical Addisonian mania. An admi